Sunday, October 18, 2009

"If It Aint Rainin', We Aint Trainin"

Lt. Ross White surveys the aftermath of an evening storm. Photo by author.
I don't know how long the phrase "If it aint raining, we aint training," has been around the Army but its quite a ridiculous statement. For some reason Army training is thought to be good only when its raining and training in nice weather is more like practice. Well if this line of reasoning is correct then the men of Bravo Company had the best training ever this past week and perpetually wet feet to go along with it. Precipitation aside, 1st PLT got to do some sweet missions this past week. The week began on Tuesday with normal PT prior to us heading out on trucks to the training area.
The main event of the week would be a squad live fire exercise in which an assaulting element would clear a bunker with a grenade. Before we could do this live though there was extensive train ups and rehearsals during the daytime. The clouds rolled in during the middle of the day as we practiced lane. As a SAW gunner, I would be part of the support element and would help lay down a base of fire to suppress the enemy which in this case would be plastic green popup targets. The rain began as we trained during the day but stopped for a little bit after dinner. CPT Martin gave us a class on how to cordon a building and conduct a search of a house prior to us going on a night mission. One of my roommates, Lt. Adam Fugent, would lead the mission as PL. Lt. Fugent put together an OPORD and terrain model quickly and briefed the PLT on how we would cordon the building and conduct the search.
Lt. Adam Fugent shakes off the rain as he preps for a mission. Photo by author.
The cloud cover gave a new dimension of difficulty since there would be little ambient light for our NVGs to use which would result in our night vision capabilities being reduced. We set out into the dark woods for 600 meters and then began our cordon. Everything was going well until a "sniper" started picking off guys from the wood line. With the search complete, Lt. Fugent dropped mortars in the tree line to suppress the sniper and we withdrew back to our PB. We laid down for the night just as the rain started to trickle down. By 0100 the rain went from a trickle to a constant rain that would last into mid-morning Wednesday. Wednesday was more rehearsals and an early night's sleep to prepare for the live fire on Thursday.
There was no rain during the live fire but it was a bit muddy as we headed out. Lt. Nick Runyon led 4th SQD on the lane and we engaged our targets effectively and quickly as they came up. Lt. Brandon Schmidt then tossed a grenade simulator in the bunker to kill the bad guys before we consolidated on the objective and fired off the rest of our ammo against an enemy counterattack coming from our west. When it was all over I had fired over 500 rounds through my SAW and 4th SQD was declared the best squad to run the lane that day. We cleaned weapons and ate dinner prior to our foot movement to our next training area. It was at this point things got bad. With no buildup or warning the skies opened up in a complete downpour and lightning crashed nearby. Soaked and weighed down with extra gear, we stepped off on the short walk to the next training area. The rain broke for a few minutes, enough time to set up poncho hooches to bed down under. After crawling under our hooches, the skies opened back up complete with more thunder and lightning. Three separate thunderstorms came through that night. During the third one, which came in around midnight, laughter could be heard up and down the PB. Soaked and tired, it was all that could be done.
Friday was rainless but cold as we went into our last day or training which was a live call for fire exercise. Out in an open field were old tank hulls waiting to have 81mm mortars dropped on it. I got my rounds on target on the second shot and then fired for effect, dropping 20 rounds on the area. It was awesome. We got on trucks and drove back to the company area more than ready for a dry weekend at home. Next week is urban ops week and a twelve mile road march so there will be some good stuff to talk about. Until then, ATW!

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